Well-known Laois woman up for national Volunteer Ireland award

Michelle Hogan


Michelle Hogan

Well-known Laois woman up for Volunteer Ireland award

Majella Fennelly

A well-known Laois woman is one of three finalists for 'Volunteer Manager of the Year' in the Volunteer Ireland awards.

Majella Fennelly is the Co-Ordinator of the Stradbally Vicarstown Timahoe (SVT) Activity and Wellness Hub steering a committee of five, 25 adult volunteers, and a group of 40 Youth Sport Leader volunteers.

Majella is behind the first ever Laois Camino happening in Timahoe this weekend. She is passionate about linking the communities of Stradbally, Vicarstown and Timahoe.

Majella is employed as SVT Co-Ordinator for 20 hours per week – but these 20 hours are just the tip of the iceberg; Majella always goes the extra mile for the benefit of local participants.  

She makes it her business to get to know the volunteers very well and identifies individual strengths and talents and puts those strengths and talents to excellent use within the group.

Speakign about the award nomination, Majella told the Leinster Express she is honoured that people acknowledge the work she does. 

"It is a complete honour and I am blown away that the committee hold me in such high regard, just to be nominated is an honour and at a national level it is fantastic.

"Anything I do, I never do to reap the rewards but it is great to know that people see the work you do.

"I love the community and connecting people, making a difference to someone’s day even if you’re not having the best day yourself and bringing a bit of life to somebody’s day.

"We try to encourage people to come out and get active, we are not a sports group but an active group so we try to reach everybody at any capacity, they can join in and it is for a mental wellbeing perspective too.

"We were nominated for Pride of Place recently which invigorated the parish and had people out talking again, cleaning up together, getting to know your neighbour again and reconnect old friendships," she said. 

Majella, through her association with Laois Sports Partnership, Laois County Council, Sport Ireland and Mental Health Ireland, is very aware of available training, and is constantly organising courses, workshops and guest speakers for her volunteers, which greatly contributes to the personal and professional development of those who give up their time for the benefit of the community.

Many volunteers have been recruited to the SVT Activity and Wellness Hub over the past two years as they have been so impressed by Majella’s positive attitude and welcoming nature at events. Everyone is welcome and due to Majella’s spirit, the SVT Activity and Wellness Hub volunteers have now become more like a family rather than a committee.

Kathleen Sheridan nominated Majella.

“Majella loves reaching out to local groups to find out ways we can better work together and make the best use of the limited resources available. Since beginning her role, Majella has strived to make the most of the facilities we already had in the community, finding new ways to use these such as using the canal for kayaking, running walking events in the woods etc. Stradbally, Vicarstown and Timahoe are now better places to live because of Majella," she said. 

The awards begin with a public call for nominations. Anyone can nominate a volunteer, someone they know who gives their time and energy voluntarily and without pay. The Volunteer Ireland Awards are open to volunteers of all ages working with Irish volunteer-involving organisations.

There are 11 categories reflecting the different facets of volunteering, such as, social inclusion, sport, safety, youth work and including an “Outstanding Groups” category. The final category recognises the important work of volunteer managers, this category is separate as the nominee can be in a paid or unpaid role.

All nominations are carefully read by our judges and shortlisting panel. The category winners and the Volunteer of The Year are announced at a gala event in December, which is attended by the shortlisted volunteers and their supporters.